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Chapter 1: The Portkey
I rolled over on my bed and squeezed a pillow around my head, hoping to hide from the sound of my alarm clock.
Beep beep beep beep beep.
I furrowed deeper into my covers, not willing to leave the fluffy paradise. When my clock actually started jumping on me, I decided to surrender. Stupid magical piece of metal. I glanced at the time and my eyes nearly popped out of their sockets. Seven o’clock. I was waking up at seven on a Saturday morning in the middle of July! I almost went back to sleep until I realized the reason for this early wake up call. Today was the day. I was going to AUSTRALIA!
Let me back up a bit. When we returned to Hogwarts after Christmas break last year, Headmistress Sprout informed us that students in 4th year and up would be allowed to go on a 3-week trip to Australia during the summer. As soon as the words left her mouth, the Great Hall erupted into loud cheers from the older students, and disappointed protesting from the youngsters. Professor Sprout explained that we would be visiting famous magical and muggle sites, and it would be both educational as well as fun. Since it was my 5th year, I was eligible to go and owled my parents as soon as I left the Great Hall, begging for their permission to go. I was on edge until I got their reply the next day: I could go. There was a meeting towards the end of the year for all who would be traveling that summer.
Two months earlier
“C’mon Layla we’re going to be late,” whined my best friend, Sophie Macdonald, from the doorway of our dormitory. I looked at my watch and rolled my eyes. We still had 10 minutes until we had to be in the Great Hall for our meeting about Australia.
“We have plenty of time, Soph, I just have to find my other shoe,” I said as I looked under my bed. All I found was a single sock and an old copy of Witch Weekly. Don’t look at me like that! It’s not mine, I swear. Sophie likes reading the advice column.
“Hey, Chloe have you seen my shoe?” I asked my other best friend, who was currently sitting on her bed reading Quidditch Through the Ages. Her dirty blond, curly hair was in a bun on the top of her head, and her long legs were stretched out as she read.
Before I could reply, Sophie declared, “Accio Layla’s shoe,” as ten pairs of shoes came flying at her. Nice one, Soph. I tried to contain my laughter as Sophie left with a frustrated huff, her long, mahogany hair whipping around. Luckily, my shoe was in the pile.
Chloe closed her book and came over to help with the shoe monstrosity. “I’m still mad my parents had to plan a family vacation the one summer when I actually had something to do!” she exclaimed before adding, “Oh an don’t forget, Grace is going too! Try to find her at the meeting, I don’t know if any of her Gryffindor friends are going.” Grace Finnigan is Chloe’s neighbor and fellow 5th year, and although we were in Ravenclaw, we often hung out with her at Chloe’s house during the summer. Chloe has a pool. Which means we invite ourselves over practically every day.
“Ok, I’ll look for her! I best be going though, hopefully Sophie waited for me,” I said before I made my way down to the Ravenclaw common room. Sophie was indeed waiting for my by the door, so we both set out for the Great Hall.
“I hope there are some cute guys on this trip,” Sophie said as we walked past the marble staircase. “I want this summer to be the best one yet!”
“Well I mean yeah, I hope so too, but either way it will still be fun!” I tried to reason with her. Now Sophie was not boy crazy, but she has enjoyed quite a few snogs over the years. I think it was her hair that made everyone like her. It was long, always looked perfectly wavy, and was full of secrets.
… Well maybe not the last part but she really is beautiful. I on the other hand had had a “boyfriend” for a few months in 2nd year (but really that hardly even counts) and all we did was hold hands a few times and share a quick peck on the lips. Starting in 4th year I went on a few dates to Hogsmeade, but nothing really came out of them. Maybe this summer would be different.
Five minutes later we were sitting down next to Grace at the front of the Gryffindor table along with about 30 other students. Grace gave us a little wave and I smiled in return. I glanced around to see if I knew anyone. Sitting further down the table was Louis Weasley, the only male Weasley in my year, sitting with Albus Potter. Unlike his older brother James, Albus was extremely studious and not nearly as loud. He was a 6th year in Gryffindor, so I had never really encountered him during my time at Hogwarts. Also unlike James, Albus did not have a fan club due to his long-term girlfriend. I had seen her a few times before, and all I could determine was that she had blue eyes and very blond hair.
I was interrupted from my thoughts as Molly Weasley sat down across from me, followed by her younger sister Lucy. Man, it’s a Weasley family reunion! Then again, every day is a Weasley family reunion. They could form their own Quidditch League with their numbers. I recalled that Molly was one of Grace’s dorm mates, and Lucy was a Hufflepuff in the year below us. They both had blond hair; taking after their mother I presume, but had the trademark Weasley freckles. “I didn’t know you were going to Australia, Grace,” Molly commented once she settled in. But before Grace could reply, Professor Sprout began to speak.
“I know you are all excited for the trip this summer, but we have to go over a few things first. Beside me are the teachers who will be chaperoning you this summer. Professor Oakley, Professor Walker, and Professor Lewis. An Aussie guide will join you once you reach Australia, who will handle your accommodations and reservations, as well as inform you about the various places you will be visiting. Now, a few ground rules…”
I tuned Professor Sprout out as I started fantasizing about seeing kangaroos and koalas. Basically, the rest of her speech was about how we had to be on our best behavior as we were representing our school, and that if they found us behaving inappropriately we would be sent home. This meant no alcohol, even if you are of age, no smoking, and absolutely no relationships. Bummer. I mean Louis Weasley, who was part veela and basically the hottest guy in our year, was going. They claimed relationships just start drama. I looked around and saw that many people had disappointed looks on their faces, and I noticed both Grace and Sophie were looking towards Louis. No surprise there. I wondered if they would actually catch people snogging. I noticed Al’s girlfriend wasn’t here so he won’t be having any problems.
After the rules were set, the teachers advised us on how much clothes and toiletries to bring, and whatever else we needed. We were about to be dismissed when Professor Walker spoke up, “Oh we almost forgot! You may bring your wand for use in magical surroundings and special circumstances, but otherwise there will be no use of magic on this trip because we will be in predominately muggle areas.” And on that note we left the Great Hall amid excited chatter about the upcoming summer.
Once I came to the happy realization that today was the day of my trip, I proceeded with my morning in high spirits. I quickly dressed, brushed my teeth, made myself look presentable, and had a bowl of cereal for breakfast. I double-checked everything in my trunk, making sure I had clothes for all weather. Even though it is summer here in England, it will be the middle of winter in Australia. Fortunately, most people who live there have never even seen snow, and Professor Sprout ensured us that their winter weather was a lot warmer than most areas.
Once I was positive I had everything I needed, I brought my trunk downstairs and gave my dog, Snidget, a hug. He squirmed out of my embrace. I know he loves me though. I’m going to miss that little bugger. Snidget is actually named after the original Golden Snitch, which was a little bird, because when we got him he was rather small. Unfortunately, he grew and was now a medium size, but I still call him Snidge. I love Quidditch (Go Harpies!), but was never good enough to play on our House Team, like Chloe. At the meeting they had mentioned something about visiting a Quidditch stadium in Australia. I hope its true!
I heard a tapping sound and discovered Sophie’s tiny owl fluttering outside the kitchen window. I removed the letter from its grasp, wondering what on earth Sophie needed to say this time when I would be seeing her in a few hours.
I know you are probably already packed and everything because you’re good with that stuff, but I need your help!!! They said no short shorts, but does that mean we have to look like our mums and wear Bermuda shorts or something? You’re lucky you’re short because you don’t have to worry too much about that. What if they do the “it has to go past your fingertips” rule? I have freakishly long arms!
Answer me ASAP because if my mum discovers I’m not finished packing she’ll have my head. Give my love to Snidge!
I laughed to myself at that one. This was certainly not the first owl I’ve received from Sophie about the trip, but having concerns the morning we are departing is a little worrisome. I quickly answered, assuring her that no, we would not have to look like our mums, and that she should just pack whatever she has and get a move on already.
As it neared 8, my mum and I prepared to apparate to King’s Cross Station. No, we weren’t going back to Hogwarts, but we would be taking portkeys to get to Australia. Because of the long distance and rather large number of people, apparating and flooing was out of the question. I grabbed my trunk and held on to my mum’s arm as I felt the familiar squeezing sensation before appearing moment later in a side street by the station.
We made our way through the barrier and onto Platform 9 ¾, where a small group was forming. After checking in with Professor Walker, I saw Sophie and walked over. Our mums began talking and Sophie’s face lit up as she cried, “I can’t believe we are here! I can’t believe we are ACTUALLY going to AUTRALIA!!” By this point she was jumping up and down. I don’t know how she has this much energy in the morning
“I know, I know, I can’t wait either!” I exclaimed, trying to match her enthusiasm. Don’t get me wrong, I am stoked to go to Down Under, but I am by no means a morning person. Grace, Molly, and Lucy joined us a few minutes later, and it looked like the five of us would be sticking together during the next three weeks. Not that I minded; Molly was a little rebellious and nothing at all like her dad Percy, while Lucy just always seemed like she was in her own little world. Grace was always fun to hang out and goof off with. I enjoyed all of their company.
Ten minutes later we were saying our goodbyes and alphabetically splitting into three groups in order to make traveling by portkey easier. I was in the first group with Professor Lewis, along with Grace and 8 other students, some of whom I recognized. Professor Lewis instructed us to hold on to our trunks and touch our fingers to the old broom he was holding, and we waited for the portkey to take off. Looking around, I caught Albus Potter’s eye before I was lifted off my feet, spinning in the air.
Hello readers, thanks for checking out this story! This is my first attempt at fanfiction, so any and all constructive criticism is greatly appreciated! But the only way I will ever know is if you review, so PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE review! I love you all!
P.S. Also, just to let you know this is the second version of this chapter I've posted. Thanks to a lovely reviewer, realized I introduced way too many characters so I took the less important ones out and am saving them for later! I figured it was better to change it now before I get too far into the story.